A victim of the recession and an indifferent FCC and Congress, the Community Broadcasters Association decided to shut down last month. LPTV operators “can’t afford to pay the electricity, let alone dues to belong to an organization,” said former president and current board member Ron Bruno.
With its member low-power TV stations struggling in the media marketplace and despairing of any regulatory help, the Community Broadcasters Association has shuttered its doors.
“A substantial number of stations have gone out of business,” said former president and board member Ron Bruno in confirming the board decision last month to cease operations after a 25-year run.
And surviving stations “can’t afford to pay the electricity, let alone dues to belong to an organization,” he said.
The recession may have been the immediate cause of the business failures and the CBA closing, Bruno said, but it was the indifference of Congress and the FCC to the needs of low-power stations over the years that was the real villain.
Despite the incessant pleas of the CBA, he said, the government refused to grant LPTV the same must-carry rights as full-power stations.
And without mandatory cable carriage, he said, LPTV stations were often cut off from the majority of homes in their markets.
Compounding the LPTVs troubles was the FCC failure to grant second channels to the stations so that could transition to digital along with the full-power stations last June.
During the transition, he said, FCC also permitted retailers to sell millions of D-to-A converter boxes that allowed consumers to watch digital TV on old analog sets, but made it difficult for them to watch LPTV stations left behind on analog channels.
LPTV stations that want to make the move to digital have to hire a consulting engineer to find a channel, Bruno said. “That, of course, costs thousands of dollars and then the operator is faced with millions more to build the station. Are you kidding me?
“It’s unbelievable what government has done to LPTV,” he said. “They literally regulated and legislated us out of business.”
Amy Brown, executive director at the time of the closing, could not be reached for comment.